In a major step forward for packaging and the circular economy, Woolworths is partnering with TerraCycle to bring Loop, the global zero-waste reusable packaging solution, to Australia. PKN spoke to Tony Rossi, VP of Loop, after the announcement.
The circular economy system, set to launch in 2021, will allow Woolworths shoppers to receive groceries delivered to their doors in reusable containers.
Products such as washing detergent, shampoo, juice, and ice cream will arrive in durable branded packaging delivered in a reusable shipping tote, and once the product is consumed, the packaging is collected or can be dropped back in store to be cleaned, refilled, and reused.
Terracycle-founded Loop was launched globally earlier this year as the first ever circular shopping system system that enables consumers to shop for their favourite products in durable, rather than disposable, packaging. It combines the convenience of disposability with the sustainable function of reuse to offer consumers the circular economy alternative. To date it has rolled out in the US and France, with plans to launch in the UK in February next year and in Canada in May, followed by Germany and Japan later in 2020. Australia is slated as the first market launch in 2021.
Loop is partnering with brands and retailers such as Procter & Gamble, Unilever, PepsiCo, Nestlé, Tesco and Loblaw.
Anthony Rossi, vice president of Loop told PKN that Woolworths was an obvious fit with Loop and in fact was the initiator in getting this project off the ground in Australia.
"We fast-tracked our entry into this market because Woolworths reached out soon after the Loop project was launched globally, and showed their commitment from the start to make it happen in Australia," he said.
“Woolworths is the ideal partner to bring Loop to Australia, due to its operational scale and commitment to environmental sustainability," he said.
According to Alex Holt, general manager of Quality, Health and Sustainability at Woolworths, the Loop project will be part of a long-term partnership agreement between Woolworths and TerraCycle. The aim is to tackle plastic waste by finding solutions for packaging and products deemed difficult to recycle.
Holt says, “Our customers are increasingly telling us they want products that are good for them, and good for the planet.
“We are pleased to be working with innovative partners like TerraCycle to lead the way in offering new and cutting-edge solutions to cut down on plastic waste.”
“Helping bring Loop to Australia is a further step in our long-term ambition to reduce our impact on the environment and support a circular economy,” said Holt.
PKN asked Rossi whether the durable packaging that will form the cornerstone of the project's success will be locally sourced.
"It takes time to build a supply chain, and in the interim we do have a number of preferred suppliers of durable packaging that we use in other markets. Typically, suppliers come forward to express interest in participating in the project. But yes, our aim, in keeping with the circular economy ethos, is to source packaging in local markets," Rossi said.
Karen Andrews, Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, praised Woolworths and TerraCycle for taking the initiative on waste packaging.
“TerraCycle is a global leader in recycling innovation. This partnership with TerraCycle to roll out Loop nationally sets a great example for other businesses.
“It is vitally important that both governments and the private sector play their part in reducing waste and embracing recycling solutions. I look forward to other businesses adopting similar initiatives,” she said.
The product range and Loop system will be trialled before its final 2021 launch. Customers can sign up at www.woolworths.com.au/shop/discover/sustainability/loop.